REGINA — It was an opportunity Scott Schultz just couldn’t turn down.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders veteran defensive lineman announced his retirement Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Schultz and his business partners recently bought an insurance agency in Regina and Schultz will now operate the business on a full-time basis.
“This was without question the most difficult decision I have ever made,” Schultz said in a statement.
“While I still love playing football, this was a business opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
“The timing of this was unfortunate, but I had to base the decision on what was best for my wife and kids.”
The six-foot-two, 292-pound Schultz is in his ninth CFL season, all with Saskatchewan. Schultz, a native of Moose Jaw, Sask., had 178 career tackles and 35 sacks during his tenure with the Riders.
In five regular-season games this season, Schultz has three tackles for the Riders (3-2), who are tied with Edmonton (3-2) atop the West Division standings.
Schultz has long been a fan favourite in Regina for his tenacious play on the field and gregarious demeanour off it.
He appeared in 128 career regular-season games with the Riders, 11 playoff contests and a Grey Cup.
Schultz was a CFL all-star in 2005 and Saskatchewan’s outstanding Canadian nominee that season.
“Scott epitomizes what being a Saskatchewan Roughrider is all about,” said Riders president Jim Hopson.
“While Scott had a very successful career on the field, it will be off the field where he is most missed.”
The Roughriders originally drafted Schultz first overall in the 2001 CFL Canadian college draft out of North Dakota.
Schultz was a four-year starter at nose guard for the Fighting Sioux and served as team captain in 2000.
At North Dakota, Schultz had 11.5 sacks and 146 tackles in 39 regular-season games.
He was twice named a first-team conference all-star (1999-2000) and made the all-academic team in 2000.
Schultz signed as an undrafted free agent with San Diego in 2001, then joined the Riders to appear in eight games, starting four at defensive tackle.
But he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002, only to return to Saskatchewan and suit up in the 11th week of the CFL season.
Schultz has become a mainstay of the Riders defence since then, anchoring a unit that has traditionally been among the CFL’s best.
A rugged force on the defensive line, Schultz’s physical play and tenacity forced rival offences to often have men block him, leaving other Saskatchewan defensive lineman in one-on-one situations.
A career highlight came in 2007 when Schultz helped the Roughriders beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 23-19 in the Grey Cup at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
It was only the third CFL title in franchise history and the clubs first since 1989.
Schultz had a tackle and fumble recovery in the Grey Cup contest.
Schultz recorded a career-high 32 tackles in 2003 and two years later had a career-best nine sacks.